Paques the art of Danielle Ducrest
Photos by Mandy Migues
Call it “egg knocking,” “egg pocking” or “pacques pacques”— no matter the name, the Easter tradition of knocking eggs together can be found in Acadiana and elsewhere in the world. The game is simple: competitors knock the pointed ends of decorated hard-boiled eggs against each other until one egg cracks. The winner holds the unbroken egg. Pâques may be the French word for Easter, but it also inspires names of the game because, when the eggs knock together, they make a “pock” sound.
Egg knocking has roots in Germany, Romania and Armenia. Today, expatriates spread the game to new locations. A former Cottonport, Louisiana resident has introduced the game to his fifth grade class in Québec, while immigrants share the game with descendants in the Pittsburg area. Avoyelles Parish is home to annual egg-knocking competitions with official judges, rules and prizes, and in 2011, the Louisiana House of Representatives designated the parish as the “Egg-Knocking Capitol of the World.” Contests in Cottonport and Marksville, which began in 1965 and 1956 respectively, accept chicken eggs and guinea eggs. In the months leading up to Easter, competitors may search for the hardest eggs among dozens of yard eggs. When boiling the eggs, competitors may cushion the eggs in rags or cardboard to prevent cracking. Contestants interested in cheating their way to victory can try a few methods to harden their eggs. In Durham County in England, entrants in their “egg-jarping” championship are not allowed to coat eggs in nail varnish or beer or warm eggs against radiators. An illegal tactic in Louisiana is to fill eggs with concrete. Lafayette doesn’t have an official contest, but last year, French teachers Mandy Migues and Lindsay Smythe held a 26 March 2015
contest among their Lafayette High School students. Migues, originally from Vermilion Parish, had heard of the game but never played it. Then she attended natural egg dye workshops at Vermilionville and learned more about egg pocking, and she decided to bring the contest to her students. Migues and Smythe spent several hours on a Sunday afternoon boiling hundreds of chicken eggs in gumbo pots. They also made natural dyes for the eggs. Students used the prepared dyes to dye the eggs. The students were surprised by the colors that vegetables like cabbage could produce, and they started mixing colors.
After the eggs were dyed, it was time to knock some eggs together. “…Teenagers are very competitive, so they really liked the contest aspect of the whole thing,” says Migues. She and Smythe plan to hold the contest again this year. No matter where egg knocking games appear, the idea is to bring a bit of fun, excitement and creativity to family or community Easter celebrations.
Acadiana's Publication of the Arts